NC officials cancel prison leave news conference - WNCN: News, Weather

NC officials cancel prison leave news conference

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has called off a news conference it had scheduled Monday for 3 p.m. Monday on the prisoner home leave program.

Secretary Kieran Shanahan and Commissioner of Adult Correction David Guice had called the news conference at the Archdale Building in downtown Raleigh.

But DPS called off the news conference for "unforeseen scheduling circumstances." Officials would not divulge what the announcement was going to be and said the news conference may be rescheduled for later this week.

The prison leave program has been under scrutiny recently, with some questioning why prisoners are allowed to leave on weekends.

The Associated Press recently reported that North Carolina prosecutors are asking Gov. Pat McCrory's administration to end the program, which allows some minimum-security inmates to make home visits as their release date nears.
    
The Conference of District Attorneys said the state's program puts public safety at risk and denies justice to the families of those wronged by the inmate.

The policy allows some minimum-security inmates with good disciplinary records to make home visits within a year of their release to help ease re-entry into the outside world. The policy has allowed more than 2,000 convicted felons to go home briefly since 2008, according to the district attorneys.
    
The program has been around for decades, but prosecutors said they have recently uncovered how widely it is used.
    
An analysis of a recent weekend compiled by the conservative Civitas Institute for prosecutors found 149 convicted felons were allowed to leave prison facilities. Of those, 36 were convicted of murder and 13 had been sentenced to life in prison.
    
"What shocks the conscience more than the release of these dangerous individuals is the fact that victims and prosecutors are not aware of their presence in the community," said Phil Berger Jr., president of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys and the son of Senate Leader Phil Berger.
    
McCrory's administration has defended the practice. David Guice, commissioner of the Division of Adult Correction, said it is a common program that serves an important function.
    
"For over three decades, the home leave program has allowed for inmates who are nearing release to re-establish family relationships and community socialization in preparation for their transition back into the community," Guice said in a statement. "Every inmate is carefully screened and selected and undergoes a thorough investigation before admission into the program."

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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